Making equality our goal

29 June 2021

In New York on 28 June 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in the Greenwich Village. At this time, this was not unusual. What was unusual was the shockwaves that it sent across the globe. Every year since, the LGBT+ community has come together in July to celebrate Pride. In this blog, Kate Husselbee, our Director of Strategy and Transformation, looks at her own experiences and how Rethink Mental Illness is working to put equity at the heart of everything we do. 

Pride is a time for the LGBT+ community to come together and celebrate. We have so much of which to be proud of, this season encourages us to celebrate ourselves, our identities, and all the progress so far. With the continued persecution of LGBT+ people across the world and an increase in transphobia, we must continue to work together towards a better future for everyone in our communities.  

When I think about equity in this context I imagine a world where all LGBT+ people experience justice. That means both equal opportunities and equitable outcomes, which might look different for each of us. Many of us face different barriers in our lives based on our identity and experiences. I consider myself very fortunate to live in a country where I can now marry the person that I love and where we have laws that provide protection. However, whilst I have not experienced the abuse suffered by many, I have experienced detrimental treatment and intolerance in various ways and have been told that families like mine should be “reviewed”. In the UK we have made huge leaps forward towards a more inclusive society but there is still much to do.  

For some people, ‘coming out’ for the first time is exciting, for others it can be difficult. For me, moving to London and working for an organisation who had several senior people who were open about their sexuality was liberating and finally I had people who I could relate to. It was time, and I felt comfortable, to be my real self. But it’s up to you to decide if, when and how you want to come out.

Research shows that mental health problems, like depression and anxiety, are more common in the LGBT+ community. The reasons why there are higher rates of mental health issues among LGBT+ people are complex. 

As a minority, you may have to deal with difficult experiences like discrimination and abuse because of your sexuality or gender identity. This can have an impact on your mental health.  

That is why this year, we have included equity as one of the foundations of our mission statement. Together with our colleagues, members and supporters, we will ensure that we deliver the best we can for the LGBT+ community. 

As we slowly recover from the effects of the pandemic and look towards our future, we can build ourselves back bigger and better than ever before. While it is still very early days, we have made some significant changes within our organisation. These include: 

  • Publishing our 2021-23 strategy that includes a commitment to supporting diversity across our organisation, both in the workplace, in our network services and through our online and offline channels. 
  • Developing guidance for managers on how to support our trans peers within the organisation. Both in the workplace and through our network of support groups and services. 
  • Reviewing and updating our LGBT+ factsheet so that it reflects the evolving language and tone of the community, and signposting to other organisations that can be of assistance. 
  • Ensuring that all roles within the organisation are open to all. In 2021, we have recruited a new talent and diversity specialist to ensure all roles are advertised to the broadest possible candidate base. 
  • Putting in place measures to help us avoid bias in the recruitment and training of staff.

While there is so much more we can do, we are very proud to have taken these first steps and look forward to embracing our LGBT+ colleagues and friends into our work. You can help us take those next steps by lending us your voice so we can reach even further. Find out more below.